Thursday, December 07, 2006

Back to the (State) Drawing Board

Very interesting opinion issued today in US V. Morris, No. 05-2133 ( Dec. 7, 2006). The Sixth Circuit upheld the district court's dismissal of a federal drug and gun indictment, based on ineffective assistance of counsel at state level during early plea negotiations.

This was a Project Safe Neighborhoods case, with joint investigation/prosecution by feds and state law enforcement. The defendant initially was charged in state court, and received some sort of pre-preliminary hearing plea offer with a veiled threat of federal prosecution if the offer was not accepted. Both the state d.a. and defense attorney underestimated defendant's actual federal exposure, and conveyed the inaccurate federal guideline estimate to the defendant. The defendant only had short time with state defense attorney to accept or reject state's plea offer; he rejected it, then got sent to federal court.

The district court found that client received ineffective plea advice at state level and only way to remedy was to dismiss federal indictment.

There are more details and I recommend reading the opinion yourself.

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